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How to Forecast Your Holiday Visitor Attendance

We’ve all been there. You’re sick of cooking all week, and cleaning up afterwards. You round up the family or friends group, pick a restaurant, you’re seated by the host and all is looking good.

 

But it’s now been twenty minutes and your drink order hasn’t even been taken…

 

There’s one server, who’s also the shift manager, trying to cover every table in the restaurant, solo. Did someone call in sick? Were the tides of fate so far against the restaurant that no other employee could cover? If you decide to stay, will they neglect the note you made about your dietary restriction? Will you ever actually get your crushed chili peppers? Maybe you’ve been taking those home-cooked meals for granted. Next time, you’ll eat in.

 

Maybe what that manager lacked was visitor forecasting skills. It happens, but it won’t happen to you, because you’ve got: *trumpets*

 
 

Veem’s Guide to Effective Restaurant Visitor Forecasting

 
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Some companies set “blackout” periods in order to restrict book-offs during seasonal peaks. Keep this out of the fine print and keep your employees in the know well in advanced on policy surrounding time-off requests.

It smells like rain, and Uncle Lou’s bad knee is acting up. Could it be a storm rolling in? No, it’s a gaggle of hungry romantics looking to devour your famous entrees, without reservations. Last time you rely on Uncle Lou.

 

The holidays are coming up and you need to focus on two things: supply and employee coverage. If your restaurant is as good as we know it is, you’ve already got a couple good handfuls of returning customers who’ve spread the word about your food and service. That means you’re looking good this holiday. Check out Veem’s article on seasonal food trends here!

 

There are also external factors that the world hurdles at restaurant owners, like weather and local competition.

 

Restaurant attendance forecasting relies on many elements. Some key influential factors to recognize are the effect you had in prior years, your marketing developments, the hours and dollars that went into production (including waste/scrap), and employee costs. There are also external factors that the world hurdles at restaurant owners, like weather and local competition. But lo and behold, many restaurants are able to pinpoint very accurately their expected sales for each day of the week.

 

Use a spreadsheet to track annual sales. Then, taking into account any promotions and community events nearby, plan accordingly. Did I just hear an entire eighth grade lacrosse team walk by?

 
 

Seasonal Expectations

 

You’ve gone the year welcoming returning guests like Gail and her husband, Bob, every week, remembering orders and preferred seating, allergies, and restrictions, and of course, those life events that they happily share with their favorite server, manager, or host.

 

How do you balance the traffic of your regulars, environment, and company goals with the influx of holiday business? You prepare well in advance.

 

When it comes to growth and development, you need only to organize a plan, and to base that plan on past seasonal trends. It’s important to review the historic success of your company to date.

 

I’m joking, of course. I know you’re not afraid of growth, and we praise your open mind. When it comes to growth and development, you need only to organize a plan, and to base that plan on past seasonal trends. It’s important to review the historic success of your company to date.

 

But what if you could look into the future?

 

Online resources are available to assist you with restaurant visitor forecasting, such as Prophet by Facebook. Prophet provides “smoothing parameters for seasonality that allow you to adjust how closely to fit historical cycles, as well as smoothing parameters for trends that allow you to adjust how aggressively to follow historical trend changes.” And what a clever name. Nice.

 
 

Employee Scheduling

 
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You can most likely expect to boost your sales during the holiday season, which means more pressure on your staff. While you’re considering how to forecast holiday visitor attendance, let’s look at how to deal with traffic increases.

 

Understaffing happens, despite anyone’s best efforts. It can be a nightmare on a busy holiday weekend. At least this holiday season, forecasting will have you prepared for anything. And your team will appreciate it too!

 

If you’re staff’s not happy, no one’s happy. Don’t mess with the staff. It shows when employees are under heat, even if they’re good actors. If you schedule accordingly, everyone wins. The staff, the customers, you, and most importantly, your business’ reputation (here, personified). A good experience means repeated business. And if those customers can stop eating your food for a moment, they might tell all their friends.

 

You want to make sure that all customers in your establishment are represented by an employee. Leave no customer behind. Usually restaurants have assigned sections that servers and staff are responsible for. But this only works if there is enough available, dedicated staff. So, how do you get your employees committed and responsive when they’re called upon? You most definitely have a respectable, eager, hand-selected team that you can rely on to satisfy customers. You’ve ensured the effectiveness of staff scheduling around expected peak times. It’s all flowing so smoothly, and then you remember the holidays are coming.

 

Some companies set “blackout” periods in order to restrict book-offs during seasonal peaks. Keep this out of the fine print and keep your employees in the know well in advanced on policy surrounding time-off requests.

 

Hiring is a painful, exciting process. It brings in fresh eyes, abilities, and attitudes. With the emerging busy season, you might already be in the process of hiring seasonal employees.

 

Those notorious seasonal employees. A few good eggs who look to make an impression and maybe sustain their time with you and your team. Then the few rotten eggs who are undependable and only hoping to silence their nagging parents by getting a job. Your hiring staff will have to work hard to pick out the most reliable and promising applicants.

 

Mom. I’m twenty-five and employed. Stop nagging me. I know Pizza Hut is hiring.

 

Now, of course, being in the restaurant industry does not, despite popular belief, make a person inhuman. Restaurant staff, too, take vacations, and holiday times are infamous for employee fistfights as everyone tries to be the first to secure time off. But there will always be those aproned heros who want and love to work during the holidays. Still, it will be a challenge to accommodate. Some companies set “blackout” periods in order to restrict book-offs during seasonal peaks. Keep this out of the fine print and keep your employees in the know well in advanced on policy surrounding time-off requests.

 

Your holiday promotions will surely up your sales, so you can expect the best results. Therefore, all you need to do is stock up. Easier said than done (you knew I was going to say that).

 

Unfortunately, there are only so many resources to help you determine how much stock you’re going to need, especially if your business is new in town. For businesses with history, you’ll have to rely on annual sales recordings, and once the holidays start, on the demand that your products ensue.

 

Most importantly, you should avoid playing Christmas music until at least December. Don’t you dare.